The Wild Side for Nov. 25, 2012

Just about this time every year, the complaints start piling up.

Fishermen fed up with other fishermen; hunters up to here with other hunters.

Most fishing complaints have to do with courtesy, or lack thereof, at landings and on the water. Guys pull up to the top of a launching ramp, take several minutes to unload all their tackle, life jackets, etc., then back down the ramp while other more courteous folks, who’ve already done all that away from the launch area, sit and wait, most times with anger building.

The other troubling issue is something us old folks call “jumping in the grave.” You’re catching fish and somebody who isn’t, or doesn’t know how, comes along and runs over the fish you’re catching just to get close enough to catch a fish or two. These nabobs don’t know enough to know where and how, but a simple introduction and asking for permission by the fishermen usually draws a favorable response from the catchers about where to position a boat and what bait to use.

Then, somehow all you duck hunters who Super Glue a mallard call to your lips on opening day and don’t remove it until the last hour in the 60-day season, OR the guys who apparently were born to see how many shotshells they could fire in a single waterfowl season, should be sentenced to a day answering The Advocate Outdoors’ phone.

Just barely a week into the season and there have been 14 calls from men, more folks than I consider to be first-rate waterfowl hunters, decrying the exorbitant use of calls and “sky busting” tactics of others in nearby duck and goose blinds.

In the spirit of the season, their names will not be mentioned (besides they’re in the same clubs with some of the violators, but not for long) and they know how much excessive calling and shooting at well-out-of-range ducks and geese will affect their seasons in the coming days and weeks.

So, here’s a rule of thumb for the rest of the season and for your duck-hunting life: Blow a call when ducks are going away from you and refrain from blowing the call when ducks are coming towards your blind. You want to get the ducks’ attention, sure, but calling when the ducks are coming to you only calls attention to you inside your blind and that’s not good.

And when you see ducks working over a nearby blind, don’t call.

Shooting long-range is sure way to send ducks winging away, never to return. Ducks aren’t stupid. They know that long, smoking instrument in your hand is something they should avoid. And they’ve seen and might remember the location of that peril to their health and well-being.

Try this: Step off 40 paces and see just how far that is before you start blowing holes in the sky.

Remember, the same bird you’re trying to down at long distances has been shot at since it left Canada. You come to respect the ones who survived to make it to their winter grounds in Louisiana.